Page last updated at 07:10 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 08:10 UK

Japan town continues dolphin hunt

A fishing boat sails to catch whales off Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan
This is the town's first catch of the new fishing season

A Japanese coastal town has gone ahead with its annual dolphin hunt, despite protests from animal rights activists.

Fishermen in Taiji caught about 100 bottlenose dolphins and 50 pilot whales - their first catch since the fishing season began on 1 September.

But in what appears to be a concession to international opinion, some of the dolphins will be released rather than killed and sold for meat.

The dolphin hunt was criticised in the recent award-winning film The Cove.

After the film's release earlier this year, the Australian coastal city of Broome ended its sister-city relationship with Taiji.

Way of life

Of the 100 dolphins caught in the hunt, 50 will be sold to aquariums nationwide and the rest will be returned to the ocean, officials from Wakayama prefecture said.

The whale meat will be sold for human consumption.

Hunting dolphins and small whales is legal under the terms of the International Whaling Commission's ban on commercial whaling, but many activists still object to the practice.

Dolphin and whale meat is seen as a delicacy in Japan, and Taiji residents say they have killed them for hundreds of years as part of their fishing lifestyle.

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